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In the Caucasus Mountains
Na Gorakh Kavkaza
Malleus maleficarum, Köln 1520, Titelseite.jpg
Title page of the seventh Cologne edition of the Malleus Maleficarum, 1520 (from the University of Sydney Library). The Latin title is "MALLEUS MALEFICARUM, Maleficas, & earum hæresim, ut phramea potentissima conterens." (English: The Hammer of Witches which destroyeth Witches and their heresy as with a two-edged sword).[1]
Full title Na gorakh Kavkaza. Beseda dvukh startsev pustynnikov o vnutrennem edinenii s Gospodinom nashikh serdets cherez molitvu Iisusu Khristovu ili dukhovnaia deiatel’nost’ sovremennykh pustynnikov
Also known as Na gorakh Kavkaza
Author(s) Ieroskhimonakh Ilarion (Ianvari Domrachev)
Language Russian
Date 1907
Date of issue 1907

The Na gorakh Kavkaza.' Beseda dvukh startsev pustynnikov o vnutrennem edinenii s Gospodinom nashikh serdets cherez molitvu Iisusu Khristovu ili dukhovnaia deiatel’nost’ sovremennykh pustynnikov' (In the Mountains of the Caucasus. A Conversation between Two Elders on Inner Unity of Our Hearts with God through the Jesus Prayer, or Spiritual Activity of Contemporary Hermits), also known as "In the Caucasus Mountains" or "On the Caucasus Mountains" is a treatise on the Divinity of Jesus name, published in 1907 by Schema-monk Ilarion from the Russian monastery of St. Panteleimon at Mount Athos in Greece.[2]

The main purpose of the Na gorakh Kavkaza was to attempt to popularize the Jesus prayer. It's considered the seminal work of Imiaslavie and the center of the controversy that surrounded that movement[3].


In the Mountain of the Caucasus was published in 1907 by Ianvari Domrachev under the monastic name of Ilarion[4]. It was written based in the conversations that Ilarion's maintained with his spiritual elder Desiderii while living at the New Athos Monastery in Novyi Afon (Georgian Caucasus)[5] and his journeys through the Caucaus region [6]. He submitted a first draft to two of his elders at the Panteleimon Monastery, Fathers Makarii and Feodosii, for corrections, and a final manuscript in 1905, now with the subtitle. It was first published in 1907 and had two reprints by 1912.[7]

In 1484 Kramer made one of the first attempts at a systematic persecution of witches in the region of Tyrol. It was not a success: Kramer was thrown out of the territory, and dismissed by the local bishop as a "senile old man". According to Diarmaid MacCulloch, writing the book was Kramer's act of self-justification and revenge.[8] Some scholars have suggested that following the failed efforts in Tyrol, Kramer and Sprenger requested and received a papal bull Summis desiderantes affectibus in 1484. It allegedly gave full papal approval for the Inquisition to prosecute witchcraft in general and for Kramer and Sprenger specifically.[9] Malleus Maleficarum was written in 1486 and the papal bull was included as part of the preface.[9]

The preface also includes an approbation from the University of Cologne's Faculty of Theology. The authenticity of the Cologne endorsement was first questioned by Joseph Hansen but Christopher S. Mackay rejects his theory as a misunderstanding.[10] The university in fact condemned the book for unethical legal practices and contradicting Catholic teaching on demons. Scholarly opinion is divided on whether the Cologne endorsement was a complete forgery, but there is general agreement that even if it were genuine it was misrepresented by Kramer, and that neither the Pope nor the University of Cologne was aware of the true authorship of the book, or even of its contents.[11][12][13][14] The Malleus Maleficarum drew on earlier sources such as Johannes Nider's treatise Formicarius, written 1435/37.[15]

The book became the handbook for secular courts throughout Renaissance Europe, but was not used by the Inquisition, which even cautioned against relying on the work.[16] Between the years 1487 and 1520 the work was published thirteen times. It was again published between the years of 1574 to 1669 a total of sixteen times. Regardless of the authenticity of the endorsements which appear at the beginning of the book, their presence contributed to the popularity of the work.

Folk belief in reality of witchcraft had been denied by the church in earlier centuries; Charlemagne had specifically outlawed the old practice of witch burning "in the manner of the pagans" since witchcraft was originally viewed by many early medieval Christians as a pagan superstition.[17] By the 15th century, belief in witches was once again openly accepted in European society, but they typically suffered penalties no more harsh than public penances such as a day in the stocks.[8] Persecution of witches became more brutal following the publication of the Malleus, with witchcraft being accepted as a real and dangerous phenomenon.[18]


The Malleus Maleficarum asserts that three elements are necessary for witchcraft: the evil-intentioned witch, the help of the Devil, and the Permission of God.[19] The treatise is divided up into three sections. The first section tries to refute critics who deny the reality of witchcraft, thereby hindering its prosecution. The second section describes the actual forms of witchcraft and its remedies. The third section is to assist judges confronting and combating witchcraft. However, each of these three sections has the prevailing themes of what is witchcraft and who is a witch. The Malleus Maleficarum relies heavily upon earlier works such as Visconti and, most famously, Johannes Nider's Formicarius (1435).[20]

Section I[edit]

Section I argues that because the Devil exists and has the power to do astounding things, witches exist to help, if done through the aid of the Devil and with the permission of God.[21] The Devil’s power is greatest where human sexuality is concerned, for it was believed that women were more sexual than men. Libidinous women had sex with the Devil, thus paving their way to become witches. According to the Malleus “all witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which is in women insatiable.” The first section mentions using a cruentation to find a witch or sorcerer.

Section II[edit]

Matters of practice and actual cases are discussed, and the powers of witches and their recruitment strategies.[22] It states that it is mostly witches, as opposed to the Devil, who do the recruiting, by making something go wrong in the life of a respectable matron that makes her consult the knowledge of a witch, or by introducing young maidens to tempting young devils.[22] It details how witches cast spells, and remedies that can be taken to prevent witchcraft, or help those that have been affected by it.[23]

Section III[edit]

Section III is the legal part of the Malleus that describes how to prosecute a witch. The arguments are clearly laid for the lay magistrates prosecuting witches. Institoris and Sprenger offer a step-by-step guide to the conduct of a witch trial, from the method of initiating the process and assembling accusations, to the interrogation (including torture) of witnesses, and the formal charging of the accused.[24] Women who did not cry during their trial were automatically believed to be witches.[25]

Major themes[edit]

The treatise describes how women and men become inclined for witchcraft. The authors argue that women were more susceptible to demonic temptations through the manifold weaknesses of their gender. It was believed that they were weaker in faith and more carnal than men.[26] Michael Bailey claims that most of the women accused as witches had strong personalities and were known to defy convention by overstepping the lines of proper female decorum.[27] After the publication of the Malleus, it seems as though most of those individuals prosecuted as witches were women.[28] Indeed, the very title of the Malleus Maleficarum is feminine, alluding to the idea that it was women who were the villains. Otherwise, it would be the Malleus Maleficorum (the masculine form of the Latin noun maleficus or malefica, 'witch'). In Latin, the feminine "Maleficarum" would only be used for women while the masculine "Maleficorum" could be used for men alone or for both sexes if together.[29]

The Malleus Maleficarum accuses male and female witches of infanticide, cannibalism and casting evil spells to harm their enemies as well as having the power to steal penises. It goes on to give accounts of witches committing these crimes.

The ancient subjects of astronomy, philosophy, and medicine were being reintroduced to the West at this time, as well as a plethora of ancient texts being rediscovered and studied. The Malleus often makes reference to the Bible and Aristotelian thought, and it is also heavily influenced by the philosophical tenets of Neo-Platonism.[30] It also mentions astrology and astronomy, which had recently been reintroduced to the West by the ancient works of Pythagoras.[31]

Factors stimulating widespread use[edit]

The Malleus Maleficarum was able to spread throughout Europe so rapidly in the late fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth century because of the innovation of the printing press in the middle of the fifteenth century by Johannes Gutenberg. That printing should have been invented thirty years before the first publication of the Malleus, which instigated the fervor of witch hunting, and, in the words of Russell, "the swift propagation of the witch hysteria by the press was the first evidence that Gutenberg had not liberated man from original sin."[32] The Malleus is also heavily influenced by the subjects of divination, astrology, and healing rituals the Church inherited from antiquity.[33]

The late fifteenth century was also a period of religious turmoil, for the Protestant Reformation was but a few decades in the future. The Malleus Maleficarum and the witch craze that ensued took advantage of the increasing intolerance of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation in Europe, where the Protestant and Catholic camps, pitted against one another, each zealously strove to maintain the purity of faith.[34]


Between 1487 and 1520, twenty editions of the Malleus were published, and another sixteen editions were published between 1574 and 1669.[35] However, there is scholarly agreement that publication of the Malleus Maleficarum was not as influential as earlier modern historians originally thought.[36][37][38] According to MacCulloch, the Malleus was one of several key factors contributing to the witch craze, along with popular superstition and tensions created by the Reformation.[8]

In 1490, only 3 years after it was published, the Catholic Church condemned Malleus as false. In 1538 the Spanish Inquisition cautioned its members not to believe everything the Malleus said, even when it presented apparently firm evidence.[39]

See also[edit]

Notes and citations[edit]

  1. ^ The English translation is from this note to Summers' 1928 introduction.
  2. ^ "Heresy on Mt. Athos: Conflict over the Name of God Among Russian Monks and Hierarchs,1912–1914". Retrieved 2013-01-01.  Unknown parameter |Author= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  3. ^ Ibid.
  4. ^ The Origins of ‘Heresy’ on Mount Athos: Ilarion's Na Gorakh Kavzaka. Essay. G. M. Hamburg (2002)
  5. ^ Ibid.
  6. ^ M. B. (Mīkhail Borislavich) Danilushkin, “Posleslovie. Kratkii ocherk zhizni startsa Ilariiona i istorii imiaslaviia v Rossii,” in Skhimonakh Ilarion, Na gorakh Kavkaza (St. Petersburg: Voskresenie, 1998), p. 902.
  7. ^ Hamburg (2002)
  8. ^ a b c MacCulloch, Diarmaid (2004). Reformation: Europes House Divided. Vintage Books, 2006. pp. 563–568. ISBN 0-14-028534-2. 
  9. ^ a b Russell, 229
  10. ^ Mackay (2006), 128
  11. ^ 'But both the papal letter and the Cologne endorsement are problematic. The letter of Innocent VIII is not an approval of the book to which it was appended, but rather a charge to inquisitors to investigate diabolical sorcery and a warning to those who might impede them in their duty, that is, a papal letter in the by then conventional tradition established by John XXII and other popes through Eugenius IV and Nicholas V (1447-55).', Joyy et al., 'Witchcraft and Magic In Europe', p. 239 (2002)
  12. ^ 'So successful was this stroke of advertising strategy that the authors hardly even needed the approval of the Cologne University theologians, but just for good measure Institoris forged a document granting their apparently unanimous approbation.', Ibid., p. 115
  13. ^ 'there is not a shred of evidence that Innocent VIII ever saw the Malleus Maleficarum or had the faintest notion of the ideas it contained', Peters, 'The Magician, the Witch, and the Law', p. 173 (1978)
  14. ^ 'It is doubtful whether either Innocent VIII or the theological faculty of Cologne ever read the work.', Joyy et al., 'Witchcraft and Magic In Europe', p. 239 (2002)
  15. ^ Bailey (2003), 30
  16. ^ 'In 1538 the Spanish Inquisition cautioned its members not to believe everything the Malleus said, even when it presented apparently firm evidence.', Jolly, Raudvere, & Peters(eds.), 'Witchcraft and magic in Europe: the Middle Ages', page 241 (2002)
  17. ^ "Medieval Sourcebook: Charlemagne: Capitulary for Saxony 775-790". Fordham University. Retrieved 2009-05-01. 
  18. ^ Trevor-Roper (1968), 102-105
  19. ^ Russell, 232
  20. ^ Russell, 279
  21. ^ Broedel, 22
  22. ^ a b Broedel, 30
  23. ^ Mackay, 214
  24. ^ Broedel, 34
  25. ^ Mackay, 502
  26. ^ Bailey, 49
  27. ^ Bailey, 51
  28. ^ Russell, 145
  29. ^ Maxwell-Stewart, 30
  30. ^ Kieckhefer (2000), 145
  31. ^ Kieckhefer, 146
  32. ^ Russell, 234
  33. ^ Ankarloo, 77
  34. ^ Henningsen (1980), 15
  35. ^ Russell, 79
  36. ^ 'The effect that the book had on witch-hunting is difficult to determine. It did not open the door 'to almost indiscriminate prosecutions' 50 or even bring about an immediate increase in the number of trials. In fact its publication in Italy was followed by a noticeable reduction in witchcraft cases.', Levack, ‘The Witch-Hunt In Early Modern Europe’, p. 55 (2nd edition 1995)
  37. ^ 'In its own day it was never accorded the unquestioned authority that modern scholars have sometimes given it. Theologians and jurists respected it as one among many informative books; its particular savage misogny and its obsession with impotence were never fully accepted.', Monter, ‘The Sociology of Jura Witchcraft’, in ‘The Witchcraft Reader’, p. 116 (2002)
  38. ^ 'Nor was the Malleus immediately regarded as a definitive work. Its appearance triggered no prosecutions in areas where there had been none earlier, and in some cases its claims encountered substantial scepticsm (for Italy, Paton 1992:264-306). In 1538 the Spanish Inquisition cautioned its members not to believe everything the Malleus said, even when it presented apparently firm evidence.', Joyy et al., ‘Witchcraft and Magic In Europe’, p. 241 (2002)
  39. ^ Jolly, Raudvere, & Peters(eds.), "Witchcraft and magic in Europe: the Middle Ages", page 241 (2002)


  • Ankarloo, Bengt (ed.) (2002). Witchcraft and Magic in Europe, Volume 3: The Middle Ages. University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 0-8122-1786-1.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  • Bailey, Michael D. (2003). Battling Demons: Witchcraft, Heresy, and Reform in the Late Middle Ages. Pennsylvania State University Press. ISBN 0-271-02226-4. 
  • Broedel, Hans Peter (2004). The Malleus Maleficarum and the Construction of Witchcraft: Theology and Popular Belief. Manchester University Press. ISBN 0-7190-6441-4. 
  • Flint, Valerie. The Rise of Magic in Early Medieval Europe. Princeton University Press. Princeton, NJ. 1991
  • Hamilton, Alastair (2007). "Review of Malleus Maleficarum edited and translated by Christopher S. Mackay and two other books". Heythrop Journal. 48 (3): 477–479. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2265.2007.00325_12.x.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
    (payment required)
  • Henningsen, Gustav. The Witches' Advocate: Basque Witchcraft and the Spanish Inquisition. University of Nevada Press. Reno, NV. 1980
  • Institoris, Heinrich (1520). Malleus maleficarum, maleficas, & earum haeresim, ut phramea potentissima conterens. Coloniae: Excudebat Ioannes Gymnicus.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
This is the edition held by the University of Sydney Library. [1]
  • Kieckhefer, Richard. Magic in the Middle Ages. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, England. 2000
  • Mackay, Christopher S. (2006). Malleus Maleficarum (2 volumes). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-85977-8.  (in Latin) (in English) (bibrec) (editor's home page)
Volume 1 is the Latin text of the first edition of 1486-7 with annotations and an introduction. Volume 2 is an English translation with explanatory notes.
  • Maxwell-Stewart, P.G. (2001). Witchcraft in Europe and the New World. New York: Palgrave. 
  • Ruickbie, Leo (2004). Witchcraft Out of the Shadows. London: Robert Hale. ISBN 0-7090-7567-7. 

External links[edit]

A disclaimer says: "Please note that we at the Malleus Maleficarum Online project are not scholars or experts on the subject."

Category:1487 books Category:15th-century Christian texts Category:Witch hunter manuals Category:Christianity-related controversies Category:Christian terms